Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made a huge announcement on Friday, effectively ending limitations on businesses put in place because of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
DeSantis said that the state would enter Phase Three effective immediately, meaning that all businesses are free to operate at the level they are comfortable with. Any local government in Florida that wants to remain at a greater restriction would need to provide proof and a statement of financial impact. Even with those provisions, no local government is allowed to mandate businesses to operate at less than 50 percent.
DeSantis is currently announcing that Florida is entering Phase 3 TODAY. Restaurants can operate at any capacity they're comfortable with. Localities can limit but not below 50%, and they have to show justification and estimate costs for anything under 100%. Details later.— Jennifer Cabrera (@jhaskinscabrera) September 25, 2020
DeSantis's announcement on Friday comes as a major relief to residents and business owners in Florida who have remained throttled and unable to work and earn since the beginning of the pandemic in March. Florida will be the first state in the union to allow bars and restaurants to open and operate without restriction in six months.
Although Gov. DeSantis has been under constant scrutiny by Democrat leaders and left-wing media outlets, the caseload and mortality rate in Florida has been steadily declining since July. DeSantis has said from the start that he would listen to science while always keeping the livelihood and well-being of Floridians as a top priority. He has been praised by President Trump, who was campaigning in Florida on Friday, for his bold leadership throughout the pandemic.
DeSantis straight-out rejected the idea of more lockdowns in a press conference at the beginning of September, saying that the state needed to move on and heal economically. I reported on his remarks at the time.
"We will NEVER do any of these lockdowns again," Gov. DeSantis said during a Tuesday press conference. Reporters had asked about the possibility that the state could see an uptick in COVID-19 cases during the fall and winter.
DeSantis left no room for doubt that Floridians under his watch would not be subjected to another financially devastating lockdown. Further, DeSantis said, prolonged lockdowns cause more harm to the health of the people they're meant to protect.
"And I hear people say they'll shut down the country and honestly I cringe," he said.
"At best, what a lockdown will do is delay," DeSantis said, pointing to the devasting disease crisis in Peru. The South American country had the strictest lockdowns in the world, preventing citizens from even leaving their homes, only to ultimately suffer from one of the highest mortality rates on the globe.
The Florida governor paired his first-in-the-nation announcement on Friday with a plan to possibly create a "bill of rights" for college students who face expulsion for attending a party.
"We’re looking at perhaps if there’s something we can do at the state level to provide some type of bill of rights for students,” said DeSantis on Thursday.
“I understand the universities, they are trying to do the right thing, but I personally think it’s incredibly draconian that a student would get potentially expelled for going to a party. That’s what college kids do."